What I Wish I Knew Before I Had Top Surgery
July 25, 2019 Jamey Alea 0 Comments
For anyone who’s going through a gender transition, there are certain moments that stand out.
I remember the moment five years ago when I decided to change my name to Jamey, to be consistent with my gender identity. I remember seven months after that when, for the first time, my mom used my chosen name and then four months after that, the first time I saw it printed on my driver’s license. In 2015, my partner gave me a greeting card that I still treasure that said, “Happy birthday to my wonderful boyfriend.” And during the summer of 2018, I was getting ready to experience another of those big moments: seeing my new chest for the first time after undergoing top surgery.
Top surgery, a common term used in the trans community to describe a double mastectomy, is a common part of gender transition for transmasculine folks like myself. It’s definitely an investment — the surgery itself is fairly intrusive and if you have to pay out of pocket, it can cost easily over $10,000. Thankfully, more health insurance plans are starting to pitch in for medical transition costs, and I’m very fortunate that my surgery was covered by my insurance.
Top surgery can feel like a necessity for many of us who experience a lot of gender dysphoria centered around our chests, both because of how it makes our bodies feel, and because of how it causes other people to perceive us. I had been coping by binding my chest, but binding is not only a huge burden but also unsustainable long term for health reasons. In 2015, I contracted pleurisy ― inflammation of chest tissue ― as a side effect of frequent binding. I longed to be free, both of my dysphoria and the hassle of chest binding.
Read the whole article on the Huffington Post! This was a really important piece for me to write. It had been on my mind ever since I had my surgery last summer, but it was over a year before I was ready to discuss it publicly. Ultimately it was something I really wanted to do, because it’s something I wish something had talked to me about before I experienced it and I wanted to be that person for others having a similar experience. And actually, writing it really helped me process my experience too, so it was just really rewarding all around! Honored that the Huffington Post wanted to share my story to a large audience.